Barcelona versus Atletico Madrid. Paris Saint-Germain versus Manchester City. Borussia Dortmund versus Liverpool. Having reached the quarter-finals stage in European competition, there are some absolutely massive matches taking place this week.
And despite that they’re in the Europa League and not the Champions League, few would argue that Liverpool facing off against Dortmund on Thursday is one of the biggest. A lot of that is thanks to Jürgen Klopp, the ex-Dortmund manager who now helms the Reds.
"Dortmund are what we are now because of Jürgen Klopp," said current Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel when asked about the club’s looming reunion with their last boss during his pre-match press conference from the Westfalenstadion today.
"I know Jürgen, and he’s one of the most competitive guys I know. He deserves a warm welcome from the fans, but he’ll be just as eager to win as we all are. For me, it’s no different, and this is going to be the sixth time I’ve welcomed him back to his old club—so it’s a bit of a routine for me."
Tuchel’s coaching career began at FC Augsburg, who Liverpool defeated in the Round of 32 of the Europa League before facing off against domestic rivals Manchester United in the last round. His breakthrough, though, came as manager of FSV Mainz after he took over from Klopp.
Then, when Klopp left Dortmund in 2015, Tuchel took over from him again—and, as he had with Mainz, once again showed he could continue, and even perhaps build on, the success of his predecessor. And the only goal for Tuchel and his coaching staff on Thursday will be winning the match.
"Liverpool have been strong in recent weeks," he added. "We have seen that they have made it difficult to create chances, and as soon as the draw was made we had scouts watching them. It’s a complete team effort to prepare for us, and from Saturday all of our focus has been on Liverpool."